If you’re a musician, then the term “one-hit wonder” could be a controversial one. On the one hand, being known only for one song could be pretty disheartening when you’ve poured just as much effort and creativity into your other work – but on the other hand, having one hit is surely better than having none, so let’s celebrate some of the many one-hit wonders in British chart history.
The term itself is a tricky one which can have various definitions, but for the purpose of this rundown we’ll stick to the one used by the Guinness Book of British Hit Singles – artists who have had one number-one hit, and no other entries at all on the UK charts.
Gotye – Somebody That I Used To Know
Starting with the most recent – and an artist who has plenty of time to change his one-hit status. Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” was number one in the UK charts for five non-consecutive weeks, peaking in February 2012. Although he has released other singles, none have reached the UK charts – yet.
Nizlopi – The JCB Song
This touching song about the singer’s childhood was tipped for the Christmas number one spot back in 2005, having gained a cult following over that summer. However although it took the charts at the top position one week before Christmas it was pushed back into number two by the X Factor singer Shayne Ward.
Steve Brookstein – Against All Odds
Moving neatly on, Steve Brookstein was the first winner of The X Factor – and the first to demonstrate that winning this particular television talent show was by no means a guarantee of lasting success. He has since turned against the show that gave him his number one single, publicly denouncing it as being staged.
Michael Andrews/Gary Jules – Mad World
Recorded for the soundtrack of the cult film Donnie Darko, this was an unusual Christmas hit in 2003. Compared to the original version by Tears for Fears, this was a stripped down cover with subtle piano accompaniment. It has since been widely used in various media, including in the video game Gears of War 3.
Las Ketchup – The Ketchup Song
If there’s one thing more likely than a Christmas hit to spawn a one-hit wonder, then it’s quite possibly the holiday song. Las Ketchup remain popular in their native Spain, but The Ketchup Song (Aserejé) remains their only UK hit.
Mr Oizo – Flat Beat
An advert for Levi’s Jeans starring an odd yellow puppet called Flat Eric spawned this 1999 hit which sold some three million copies. Mr Oizo is a French electronic musician and director and, like Las Ketchup, continues to enjoy success in his native country as well as on the underground dance scene, but has not reached the heady heights of the UK chart again.
Teletubbies – Teletubbies Say Eh-Oh!
1997 was perhaps one of the odder years for the charts, with the theme song to the BBC children’s series “Teletubbies” selling over a million copies and, yes, reaching number one for two weeks just before Christmas. They were beaten to the prized Christmas number one slot, however, by the Spice Girls.
Doop – Doop
Two Dutch producers collaborated to create this bizarre hit – a speeded up big-band tune reminiscent of the Charleston, with lyrics that consisted largely of one word – “doop” – repeated over and over… Released in February 1994, it spent three weeks at number one.
Partners in Kryme – Turtle Power
Recorded in 1990 for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film, the popularity of the franchise certainly helped this single to the top of the charts – despite the obvious mistake in the lyrics, which claim Raphael to be the leader of the Turtles. (As we all know, it is in fact Leonardo!) However, the hip-hop duo responsible parted ways before even recording an album, so they had little chance to correct their mistake or achieve another hit.
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